I’m going to say something that may not sit well with some people, “When sex is being used as a weapon in a marriage, don’t be shocked if it leads to divorce!” Now I know someone may be thinking “divorcing over sex/intimacy issues is not a good reason,” and to that, I say you’re wrong. While divorcing over sex may seem trivial, it’s not. Marriages survive on intimacy and sex, and once the intimacy is gone, the marriage begins to suffer especially if the couple goes through long periods of not being intimate. The relationship begins to shift, and the spouses act merely as roommates and when a spouse is constantly making excuses to avoid sex, this not only creates tension and resentment, but it is also very likely to kill the marriage. This is one of the leading causes of infidelity in marriages.

Now, when a spouse is using sex as a weapon or a tool to manipulate or punish their spouse, this becomes a recipe for immense anger and hurt, and divorce. Consciously and unconsciously, sex is all too often used as a tool to gain power or control in a relationship. It should be of no surprise that a marriage most likely will not survive if a spouse is offering sex only as a reward or special favor. It gives the person with the decision (usually the wife) the power and can be used to leverage men into doing what women want them to do. This often leads to both partners entrenched in a power struggle and a full-scale war is silently waged.

I cannot tell you how many times I have clients come to me detailing how their wife has been either withholding or using sex as a tool of manipulation, hence leading them to either cheat or now seek a divorce. Sadly, people do not realize how devasting the effects are when sex is used as a weapon in a relationship. On a neurobiological level alone, the body is deprived of the truly positive effects of several neurochemicals, including the bond-building oxytocin. Instead, negative sexual war tactics build levels of stress-related neurochemicals, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

On a more visible level, partners that utilize sexuality for power and control find that the marriage suffers in many areas. In general, open communication is often diminished, conflicts tend to arise readily, and arguments often remain unresolved. Unhealthy passive-aggressive or openly aggressive behavior patterns often become the norm.

Passive-aggressive behaviors are common and include tactics such as intentionally withholding sex or only offering sex as a reward when the partner has “done something right.” Worse yet, when sex becomes a weapon of physical or emotional aggression, lasting harm can be done to the vital sense of trust and safety in a marriage. When a couple’s sexual relationship goes awry, the level of tension in the household can be palpable.

Most “sex wars” come about because of longstanding communication issues that surface through sexual relations or the lack of sexual relations. In either case, the dysfunctional patterns that surface through “sex wars” take a toll on the overall health of the marriage.

In short, sex as a weapon will ultimately cause a marriage to break down and ultimately end.

Hayley Lisa

The Divorce Coach for Men